Sunday, 29 April 2012


Following Part 1 of his look back at the 2011/12 season, Mike concludes his list of this terms champagne moments…

That’s it then.  Another season bites the dust. It’s been alright hasn’t it? Our Championship status remains intact and depending on this afternoon’s outcome we could beat last years points total. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty happy with that. Admittedly there may not have been the highs of previous seasons, there were no cup runs or six goal demolitions, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been moments to cherish. After my first batch of champagne moments were published in the last home programme, here are the second and final lot…

Anyone that listens to the From the Rookery End podcast will know that I am a big fan of John Eustace. To be honest, who isn’t? His wholehearted, committed performances, his patented dink/chip pass (minimum of 5 to be performed per game), the heated discussions with officials, his impossibly white gnashers. The bloke is a god. It was therefore a worry for all of us when the great man sustained a head injury in the home cup tie with Bradford. Blood spilling from his bonce at a fearful rate, Eusty’s game was clearly over. Except it wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t. Refusing to give in to something as petty as a massive hole in his head, our hero’s head was bandaged and on he played. He was to sport the bandage for a few games afterwards and for me it served as an illustration of his and his team-mates commitment to the cause. It showed that you’re going to have to work hard to beat this Watford team, and in the end, not many did.

Sometimes in football there are moments that won’t mean anything to the casual observer, whilst for others they mean the world - encapsulating all that is good about the sport and their club. Watford’s win at Millwall this season was one such occasion. Coming on the final day of the transfer window, all the talk ahead of this game had been about the future of Adrian Mariappa. Reports had suggested a number of bids from Premier League clubs and as the day wore on it seemed increasingly likely that our influential defender would be heading for pastures new. As is usually the case with Watford, things didn’t work out quite as expected. That night at Millwall, Hornets fans were delighted to see Mariappa in the line-up. The same could not be said of Marvin Sordell, who was on his way up North to sign for Bolton Wanderers. On one hand we’d kept one of our prize assets, on the other we’d lost our England U21 striker. No-one knew which way was up. Apart from those that counted. In an impressive display of togetherness and professionalism, the team turned in a fantastic performance to win at one of the least welcoming venues in football. To outsiders, a decent away win for an average Championship side. To us, a clear indication that our team will give their best, their absolute best – whatever the situation.
Finally, that boy Sean Murray. He’s one of our own you know. It won’t have come as a surprise to many that he’s a bit special, but after the hype, it’s nice to see him delivering on the pitch in some style. It’s Murray’s fellow Academy graduate Brit Assombalonga who provides my final highlight however. In making his first team bow against Coventry this season, Assombalonga became the 50th Academy graduate to play for Watford’s first eleven. You don’t need me to point out how important our youth set up is. You also shouldn’t need me to tell you how proud we should be of our record in this department. It is quite simply unsurpassed. Long may it continue.
So. No silverware. No glory. No real change there in all honesty, but plenty to savour - not least some timely reminders as to who we are and what we’re about. We’re Watford. We work hard. We do things the right way. Come on You Horns.

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